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The Cape Party (CAPE) is a political party in South Africa which seeks to use all constitutional and legal means to bring about independence for the Western Cape, Northern Cape (excluding two districts), six municipalities in the Eastern Cape, and one municipality in the Free State. The party grew out of a Facebook group in 2007, and is led by Jack Miller, who worked as an actor when he first assumed the leadership. In 2009, it had a membership of approximately 1000 people.
It is registered with the Independent Electoral Commission and was on the provincial ballot of the Western Cape in the South African general elections of 2009, where it received 2,552 votes, or 0.13% of the vote. It will stand again for the municipal elections of 2011.
The party believes that the population of the Western Cape and parts of surrounding provinces (which it calls the Cape Nation), is culturally and linguistically distinct from the rest of South Africa, and is therefore entitled to statehood under chapter 14, section 235 of the South African Constitution. It alleges that the Republic of South Africa is a colonial construct, and that the people of the Western Cape are being oppressed by the national government. It claims that the national government and legislative apparatus are racist and totalitarian, and has referred to President Jacob Zuma as an illegitimate occupier of the Cape. Black economic empowerment, affirmative action and housing allocation policies have been provided as examples of the national government's racist policies.
The party claims that its policies are modelled after the Torch Commando, who protested against the Apartheid government's removal of suffrage from coloured voters in the Cape Province.
The party claims that 75% of the Western Cape's tax revenues are spent outside of the province – a practice it has compared to rape. It has alleged that the province would be more economically successful if these revenues were spent within its borders, making it one of "the top 10 wealthiest countries income per capita [sic] in the world". Miller has further claimed that the proposed Cape Republic would perform better economically than any individual province in South Africa, and, contradicting an earlier claim, that R58 of every R100 of tax revenue contributed by the Western Cape is spent within its borders.
According to spokespeople, the party believes education should be a priority in the Western Cape, and is a solution to many of the province's problems. Representatives have also spoken out against politicisation of the civil service, and cited poorly controlled immigration as a primary cause of crime.
The Cape Party has said that it occupies a unique position, as it focuses on local issues, instead of attempting to contest power in national elections, which would legitimise the national political machinery.
The party believes in a system of direct democracy where the electorate are consulted in referenda before passing laws. It also supports the ability of individual communities and cultural groups to determine the laws that govern them. It supports free ports, and has suggested turning its prospective republic into a tax haven.
The party has stated that it has an internal consensus in support of the death penalty, but would put the issue to a public referendum if elected. Capital punishment is forbidden by the South African constitution.
The proposed Cape Republic would include all the municipalities in the Western Cape, six in the Eastern Cape, one in the Free State and all but two in the Northern Cape. The area includes all municipalities in those provinces with an Afrikaans-speaking majority.
Process of secession
The party cites various legal provisions and frameworks to support its position that the "Cape Nation" has a right to self-government. These include:
- the South African constitution, which guarantees the right to self-determination of any community sharing a common cultural and language heritage
- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that all people have the right to self-determination and to pursue economic, social and cultural development, and that they may freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice. The covenant also declares that states party to it must promote the realisation of those rights.
- article 1 of the United Nations Charter
- various UN General Assembly resolutions dealing with self-determination, sovereignty and independence
- chapter 1, article 20 of the Organization of African Unity's African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which states that all people have an inalienable right to self-determination, and declares that oppressed people have the right to free themselves from domination by any means recognised by the international community. (The Cape Party refers to this document as "African Union: Human and Peoples' Rights".)
The constitutional law scholar Pierre de Vos, however, has said that the Cape Party could not secede without a revolution. As the constitution has created a unitary state, he has said that threatening the unity of the country would be treason.
The Cape Party has said that it will seek to build consensus with the dominant political parties in the Western Cape, such as the Democratic Alliance. In response, Democratic Alliance federal executive chairperson James Selfe said that the Cape Party was "not a party we take seriously".
The Cape Party has been criticised in the press as a narrow, single-issue party without substantive policy. Commentators have alleged that its platform is racist, and particularly vilifies migrant workers from elsewhere in South Africa, who work in the Western Cape. Because of these policies, political activist Zackie Achmat has compared the Cape Party to the far-right British National Party. The party has denied accusations of racism. In addition, Justin Sylvester, a political analyst for the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, has compared the proposed Cape Republic to Orania, and described the desire for secession as a marginal view.
2011 municipal elections
The party will field candidates in all wards of the City of Cape Town in the municipal elections of 2011, and also contest wards of the Cape Winelands, Overberg, Eden and West Coast municipalities. The party launched its manifesto for the election on 15 April 2011. Miller described the election as "an opportunity to take great steps toward our end goal of establishing the Cape Republic".
In addressing the results of the 2009 elections, a party spokesperson described the Cape Party's campaign in those elections as a publicity drive, noting that it didn't expect to win any seats. He said, however, that the party hoped to win a "significant portion" of votes in 2011, adding that the party's support was growing and was strongest in people between the ages of 18 and 35. He acknowledged, however, that this was difficult for the media to believe. The party finally garnered 1,670 votes (0.1% of the Western Cape vote) on the proportional representation ballot in the 2011 election.
The Cape Party was the first political party to put up election posters in the City of Cape Town. However, the party claims that 2500 of these went missing in three weeks. A party spokesman blamed the Democratic Alliance for the missing posters, calling them "masters of the dark arts", and alleging that the Cape Party posters had been replaced with posters for the DA.
IEC name controversy
In 2009, the Cape Party petitioned the Independent Electoral Commission to reject the registration of another political party, the recently formed Congress of the People, on the grounds that the abbreviation of their name (Cope) could cause confusion between the two parties amongst voters, which is against the IEC's regulations. The IEC rejected the objection.
On 17 March 2009, the party's website was defaced by vandals. The website was replaced with an image of a "black devil" and the words "fuck off". Jack Miller, the party leader, alleged that the attack would have required a great deal of funding and equipment, and claimed that it had been perpetrated by one of South Africa's two largest political parties, the African National Congress or the Democratic Alliance. The attack was investigated by the IEC, which has come to no conclusions.
Support for Thembu independence
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